Metalhead, directed by Ragnar Bragason is a stunning offering in an eclectic collection of films in the 2014 Scandinavian Film Festival.
Set in the late eighties and early nineties, the plot follows 12-year-old Hera, who watches her brother die in an horrific farming accident.
Traumatised and consumed by grief, Hera (Thorbjὃrg Helga Thorgilsdόttir) emulates her late brother by dressing in his black leather jacket and band t-shirts, and listening to his favourite metal.
As she grows into a rebellious teenager, she channels her grief for her brother into the music she writes and making her parents’ lives hell.
Hera is trapped in her small hometown by her own fears, despite her parents’ desire for her to move to the city and be free.
Partially inspired by the Norwegian black metal church burnings in the ’90s, the film is quite slow to begin but it eventually picks up pace and allows the audience to fall in love with the characters.
Themes of grief, family, choice, ambition and obligation are explored beautifully against a spectacular Icelandic backdrop.
Each scene shows the cold stillness of the farming country in Hera’s hometown and is superbly juxtaposed against the wild grief tormenting Hera and her family.
The soundtrack is a flashback to the glory days of metal bands like Riot, Teaze, Savatage, Lizzy Borden, Judas Priest and Megadeth.
Metalhead was winner of eight awards at the 2014 Icelandic Film Awards, including Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor & Actress, and Original Score.
The film is in Icelandic and Norwegian with English subtitles and is a wonderful snapshot of country town in a simpler time.
Thorgilsdόttir’s performance as Hera is outstanding, particularly the way she lures the audience to love her, despite being a particularly unlikable character.
Hera’s parents, played by Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson and Halldora Geirharosdottir are also stand out performers, giving a strikingly realistic and beautiful depiction of a couple living with grief and working together towards healing.
The Scandinavian Film Festival is screening nationally from July 23 – July 31 at Palace Cinemas.
Reviewed by Libby Parker